Our entrance into Australia was with the boat, the Johan V Olden Barneveld in August 1962.
The journey lasted six weeks, and though it may seem a long time, we had about five berths at ports, so this fact made the journey seem shorter. On August 2nd we arrived at Fremantle and from there over to Adelaide (we stopped there too).
We arrived at Melbourne and the train took us to Bonegilla, a big hostel, but at that moment it was not overpopulated as the big amount of people came in the late forties and fifties. We were three weeks there and we travelled down by train to Geelong where Gerry got a job at the Harvester as a machinist. He travelled ahead to see whether or not he could work there. Having friends in that area was attractive to us. So when he knew he had work he could take us there. We were two years in the Norlane Hostel.
Names of the Elings family: Gerrit Jan Elings, Willie Elings/ de Gans (wife) Children: Rob, Hans, Rita. When we arrived in Australia Rob was 15, Hans 13 and Rita 5.
During the first two years here Gerry was promoted to machine setter. There was plenty of work with machinery making for the land. Gerry worked predominantly on night shift, which gave about 30% more income, and I worked domestically two or three times a week. Through the manager of the hostel I was introduced to Piet van Wees, a butcher, who had a factory in North Geelong. Piet van Wees brought me in contact with his daughter in North Shore, and she took me as her help domestically twice a week, and from there I was contacted to two other families and so I was able to save my money as well. One of the families were the Mockridges who lived in Newtown. Their son Russell was an Olympic cyclist and tragically he was killed in a road accident while training.
One day Rita Broekman (Mary) brought us in contact with the neighbour across the road, Mr Thompson, who had his house for sale in Myrtle Grove. We saw the place, liked it and bought it! His daughter and her husband, Mr Tomkins, were moving out. We had a second mortgage which was paid within two years and after nine years in Australia we owned the place and we lived there happily for 42 years.
We had a Labrador dog and I walked her every day, so I met new people. The dog ‘Botha’ liked to swim at the beach chasing the seagulls and never got one. But, boy, did she like it!
The children at the start at school had some trouble language-wise but they all managed and they found good careers in the Air Force and Army. Rob went to Corio Tech, Hans to Norlane High and Rita to North Shore State School and later to Matthew Flinders High School.
Our daughter Rita finished school in the 11th year, did photography work and married Russell Ivermee in her early twenties, and they all have happy families.
Rita and Russell and their family live in Warrnambool.
Rob and Hans were both warrant officers in the Air Force and Army respectively.
Rob was in the Air Force for 25 years. He married a Malaysian girl and they have three children. They now live in Lara.
Hans was in the Army for 20 years including two years in Vietnam. He is married with three children and lives in Brisbane.
Willi Elings: Phone conversations with Bryan Power on 7 and 19 July 2011 about the Norlane Migrant Hostel.
When we arrived at the Norlane Migrant Hostel on The Boulevarde in Norlane in 1962 there were about 250 people living there - not as many as there had been in the late 1940s and 50s - so we had a whole hut to ourselves which gave us six rooms. Another family there at the time were the Sharples.
My husband was able to buy second hand furniture cheaply at auctions so we were able to furnish the rooms.
I had studied English for three years at school in Holland so I could read and speak the language quite well but I had a lot of trouble understanding the Aussie accent.
I am now 90 and cannot remember the names of the families who were there at that time but I can recall that there were people from Britain, Germany, Holland and Poland.
The manager was Mr Szadek and he had two small children whom I looked after at times when he had to go out. Mr Szardek was a Hungarian citizen and he had been in a German concentration camp and had a number tattooed on his wrist. Most likely he was Jewish and was a lucky man to escape death.
Another family in the Hostel was Eric and Conny Lee from England. Eric, like my husband Gerrit, was working at the Harvester. In 1964 we became neighbours as they bought the house next to ours in Myrtle Grove and we have stayed friends. Eric passed away about 30 years ago but Conny is still my friend, now living in a modern flat in Seabeach Parade.
Rent at the hostel depended on your income; we had to have £12 a week left over. I think we had a bit more left over as my husband worked nightshift all the time
After two years my husband and I had saved enough money for a deposit to buy the house at 6 Myrtle Grove, North Shore from Stan Thompson. We lived there happily until 2006.
I moved to a unit in Warrnambool to be close to my daughter but my husband preferred to remain in the area and lives in residential care at Vonlea Manor in Norlane.
When I moved my long time neighbour Peter Finch kindly took over the care of my cat, Lucky.
I was a member of the North Shore Committee and was good friends with the other committee members, Dale and Kay Jennings, Tom Gartlan, Anton van Doornik, Jim Anderson and Harry and Ric Broekman